UPDATE 1-Nokian Renkaat beats market expectations
(Adds details on Russia, outlook for 2014)
HELSINKI Oct 31 (Reuters) - Finnish tyre maker Nokian Renkaat's quarterly operating profit rose more than expected as it expanded market share in Russia, its biggest market.
The company reiterated its recently-lowered outlook for 2013, forecasting a decline in net sales and operating profit due to a slowdown in Russia's economy and the impact of an unfavourable rouble exchange rate.
It said pricing pressure would most likely continue in Russia, where sales of new cars have fallen and Japanese rivals have lowered prices, but that there should be some improvement in 2014.
"We do not foresee any major improvement in demand short term but there are some signs of improvement already in the second half and going into 2014," Chief Executive Kim Gran said in a statement.
The winter tyre specialist's expansion into Russia has been seen as a strength amid Europe's recession, but earlier this month it cut its full-year outlook for the second time in two months citing the country's slower GDP growth.
Nokian Renkaat books about 40 percent of its sales in roubles, and a weaker currency exchange rate against the euro lowers the value of revenue repatriated to Finland.
It said its third-quarter earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) rose 12 percent to 95.7 million euros ($131.79 million), beating the average analyst forecast of 90 million in a Reuters poll. ($1 = 0.7262 euros) (Reporting by Ritsuko Ando; Editing by David Cowell and Elizabeth Piper)
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